Richland Co., Ohio


Historical Information

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Mifflin Twp.

source:  Mansfield News, 19 February 1903


Submitted by Jean and Faye


History of Richland County

By A J. Baughman



 Vermillion township was originally eighteen miles long from north to south, and twelve miles wide from east to west.  In 1814 this territory was cut into two parts, and the west half was called Mifflin.  In 1816 Mifflin was divided, and the portion lying directly east of and adjoining Madison, six miles square, retained the name and organization of Mifflin township.  A number of the settlers there came from Mifflin township, Allegheny county, Pennsylvania - hence the name.

When Ashland county was created in 1846, Mifflin was again divided, by the county line, which follows the general course of the Blackfork.  The territory on each side of the line retains the name of Mifflin, one being in Ashland, the other in Richland county

The surface of Mifflin along the Blackfork is generally hilly, but the western part of the township is more level, and some of the most productive farms in the county are along the Blackfork valley, and the farmers are generally well and comfortably situated

Long before Mifflin was settled by white men, it was a favorite hunting ground for the Indians, as all kinds of game abounded in its primeval forest.  Samuel and David Hill and Archibald Gardner were the first white settlers in Mifflin, locating there either late in 1809 or early in 1810.  Samuel Hill settled on the northeast quarter of section 33, north of Lucas.  Archibald Gardner located near Windsor.

The settlement and history of Mifflin have been similar to that of the other townships of the county.  In the beginning there were dangers from savages and from the climatic diseases of a new country.  The Mifflin pioneers, like those of other localities, lived in log cabins, cleared their lands, worked early and late, and their bill-of-fare consisted, principally, of corn bread, fish and game.  As the population increased, there were shooting matches and militia musters.  The men were robust and brave and the women were fit mothers for the generations that were to follow.  Time passed and Mifflin grew and improved and prospered, keeping step with her sister townships and will soon be traversed by trolley lines, bringing the people in touch with the county-seat and country towns and pleasure resorts.

Before churches or school houses were built, religious services were held and schools were taught in the cabins of the pioneers.  In time, fine churches were erected for religious and educational purposes, and today the churches and the school-houses of that township are evidences of the high character and attainments of the people.

Robert Bentley settled upon the southwest quarter of section 10 in 1815.  The family camped in their wagon until their cabin was built and in which they lived until 1828, when they moved out of the old cabin into a fine brick residence - the first brick dwelling erected in Richland county.  Mr. Bentley was for seven years an associate judge of the court of common pleas, and served two terms in the state senate.  He was a major general of the Ohio militia, and was a prominent man in business, as well as in civic and military affairs.  He died in Mansfield in 1862.  Two grandchildren of Gen. Bentley reside in Mansfield - the Hon. M. B. Bushnell and the wife of Gen Brinkerhoff.

Peter Hout was born upon the farm on which he now resides Nov. 17, 1821, and has therefore been a resident of this township for eighty-two years.  He attended school in one of the log school houses common at the time.  He can relate many interesting incidents of pioneer life, when the land was all wild and unimproved and when wild game was plentiful in that region.  Mr. Hout has held several township offices, and also severed his county as infirmary director two terms.  As an honored pioneer and representative man of Mifflin he is worthy the high regard in which he is held.  The Houts are both numerous and prosperous.  One rural mail carrier from Mansfield delivers mail to a dozen Hout families.

The late Isaac Aby settled in Mifflin in 1826.  In 1854 he married Sarah Clugston, sister of George A. Clugston, of this city.  Mr. Aby was a California “forty-niner,” and what he accumulated in the Golden State gave him a good financial start upon his return, and as the years came he bought farm after farm and was quite wealthy at the time of his death.  His son - Byron J. Aby - is one of the wealthy and prominent farmers of Mifflin today.

The Balliets are both numerous and prosperous.  Mifflin does not contain all of them, for Washington and other townships have many families of them.  Whenever you pass a Balliet farm you have a place that is well improved.

There are a number of Boals families, all well situated, and the late David Boals was a county commissioner.

James Chew located in Mifflin in 1817.  His sons were Andrew, William, Amon and Cephias.  James Chew died in 1839.  The Chews have been prominent people in Richland county since the early settlement.

Daniel Hoover was one of the early settlers of Mifflin township, and through his industry and frugality accumulated considerable property.  He was married to Sarah Sheller.  They were the parents of eight children, of whom Joseph, born in 1824, was the eldest.  The others were Mary, Henry, Aaron, Christian, Alfred, Elizabeth and Daniel.  Mr. Hoover was a Baptist, and frequently had preaching at his house.

Daniel Kohler, Sr., was born in Pennsylvania in 1814.  Came to Ohio at an early day, and was married to Nancy Brubaker.  The Kohlers, the Kagys, the Cotters, the Coles and Hershes are related by marriage.

Duncan McBride was born in Virginia in 1807, came with his parents to Richland county in 1817, and settled one mile north of Lucas, in a log cabin, which for a time had no floor but the earth; later a puncheon floor was laid and a quilt was hung up for a door.  In those days they put bells on their horses and on their cows, which were turned out to browse in the woods, which were the only fields of pasture then.  In hunting for them they were apt to encounter almost any kind of wild animals, from bears to porcupines.  When the dogs attacked the latter their mouths would get filled with the quills of the porcupines, and then their yelling and howling was terrible.  Their master would have to pull the quills out of their mouths, to which the dogs would submit intelligently.  In 1829 Duncan McBride bought a farm at the foot of the Mohawk hill in Monroe township, upon which he resided until his death in 1862.  Duncan McBride was a justice of the peace for many years, and during the period when cases that now go to the common pleas court were then tried before justices of the peace.  One of these was the notable “California case,” which was tried before Justice McBride, and in which the Hon. John Sherman and the Hon. George W. Geddes were opposing counsel.  This was before Sherman went to congress, and before Geddes was elected a judge of the common pleas court.

Solomon Aby is a successful farmer.  He is a great-grandson of the late Rev. James Copus, who was killed by the Indians in the Copus battle, Sept. 15, 1812.

Washington McBride is a successful farmer and banker.  He could buy the best residence in Mansfield, but prefers his country home, where he has lived for nearly forty years

‘Squire Freeman Osbun owns farms in both Mifflin and Weller townships.  He was a soldier in the war of the rebellion, being a member of Company D, One-hundred-and-second O. V. I.  He is of a pioneer family, and is a justice of the peace, as his father was before him.

Of other prominent people in Mifflin, past and present, the familiar names of a number are recalled:  N. S. Henry, E. N. Ernsberger, the Hales, Au, Bell, Barr, Cole, Hoover, Kaufman, Kaylor, Van Cleaf, Miller, Sattler, Snyder, Wolfe, Woodhouse, Yeaman, Swoveland, McNaull, McCready, Walters, Haverfield, Sunkel, Amsbaugh, Sturgeon, Tucker, Hunt, Reyher, Simpson, Hostetter, Culler, Gongwer, McCormick, Zook, Niesley, Sites, Koogle and Cook.

Peter Hout was in Mansfield Saturday and in conversation with some friends on the Sturges corner, told in an interesting way of the pioneer days, when he was a boy - three-fourths of a century ago, and of the change made by 

“The inaudible an noiseless foot of time.”

With the net-work of telephone wires now strung over the country, every man is in communication with his neighbors, even to the remotest parts.  How different from the slow intercourse of that of bygone years.  This is realized as much in receiving election returns as in any other way.  Years ago post-riders were frequently sent to the out-lying townships to bring in the returns.  Upon one occasion the contest between two candidates was very close, and when the returns had been received from all the precincts except one, the interest became intense, as the vote was so close that it was conceded that the township to hear from would decide which of the two candidates would be chosen.  The suspense became more and more intensified as time passed.  Finally the messenger appeared, riding at a furious speed, and halting where the crowd had gathered, his panting horse flecked with foam, exclaimed, “Seven of a majority.” “For whom?” yelled the anxious crowd.  “I don’t know for whom, but I do know, gentlemen, that this ‘hoss’ is a speeder.”

It was the custom in the pioneer days, when a man killed a calf or pig to divide it among his neighbors.  One who had often received the benefit of this generous custom, but was rather noted for his parsimony, had, in his turn, killed a pig, and meeting a friend, informed him of the circumstance and expressed to him his fear that he would not have meat sufficient to distribute among his neighbors and retain what he considered necessary for his own use.  His friend, after considering the case, proposed that he could relieve himself of his dilemma by permitting the pig to remain suspended outdoors, where it had been dressed, during the night, and before daylight take it in and conceal it in his house, and then to give out that it had been stolen during the night.  The suggestion received the approval of the pig owner; and on the next morning he met his friend, and, with a rueful countenance, informed him that, sure enough, his pork had been stolen.  The friend complimented the pig man upon his skill in lying, and told him that he had only to repeat the story with the same skill to all whom he would meet and there would be no doubt that the lie would be successful.  The other swore that his tale was neither a lie nor a joke, but that his pig had indeed been stolen.  In response to his vehement protestations, his friend would the more compliment his skill in playing off, and urge him to put on a bold front and maintain his position in the face of everybody.  The truth of the matter was, that the disinterested and facetious “friend” who had advised the plan, had taken the pig.

There has been a tendency to unearth ancient graves in the interest, as it is claimed, of historical research, but often, perhaps, to gratify curiosity, or to hunt for supposed trinkets and treasures.  The meanest kind of a thief is a grave robber.  There are two kinds of ancient graves in Richland county - one of the pre-historic people who inhabited this locality eight or ten centuries ago.  The other, those of Indians of the pre-pioneer period.  Many people confound the Indians with the pre-historic race of mound-builders, who were not Indians.  A different people may have inhabited this part of the country at a period between its occupancy by the mound-builders and by the Indians.  Why desecrate those ancient graves in a fruitless attempt to roll back the centuries of the past, for the search-light of investigation reveals but little of “the night of time.”

An old poet wrote:

                         “Oh, Mound! Consecrated before
                         The white man’s foot e’er trod the shore,
                         To battle strife and valour’s grave,
                         Spare, oh, spare, the buried brave.
                         “A thousand winters passed away,
                         And yet demolished not the clay.
                         Which on yon hillock held in trust
                         The quiet of the warrior’s dust.
                         “The Indian came and went again;
                         He hunted through the lengthened plain;
                         And from the mound he oft beheld
                         The present silent battlefield.
                         “But did the Indian e’er presume,
                         To violate that ancient tomb?
                         Ah, no, he had the soldier’s grace
                         Which spares the soldier’s resting place.
                         “It is alone for Christian hand
                         To sever that sepulchral band,
                         Which ever to the view is spread,
                         To bind the living to the dead.”

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